Local liquor store owner forced to pay over $350k in back wages to employees


SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Federal wage investigator found that the owner of 61 different liquor stores in Indiana and Michigan was violating wage laws at his Mea Liquor and Smoke stores and is now required to pay $354,633 in back wages and damages to 156 employees. 

On May 8, a United States District Court Judge ordered Bhola Singn, owner of Vishav Inc. in Granger, to not only pay back wages, but to post a statement and play a recorded video message to inform workers of their right to cooperate with federal wage investigators and notify them that he is subject to a federal lawsuit for retaliating against workers and failing to pay required wages.

Authorities say the video requirement is a direct result of Singh retaliating against workers who spoke to investigators from the department’s Wage and Hour Division and allegedly tried to coerce them to return the back wages that he was ordered to pay.

“The court is holding Bhola Singh accountable for his illegal tactics to stop employees from receiving the back wages and damages they’re owed,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri. “Employers should know that we will use every available legal resource to protect workers and end illegal and retaliatory practices by employers.”

The order officially requires Singh to post the statement in a language understood by workers within three days and play the video — its content approved by the department — for employees within seven days during work hours.

Authorities say Singh agreed to immediately stop retaliating against workers who cooperated with investigators and must also give the court an accurate accounting of back wages paid and received by employees within 90 days. Any remaining back wages and damages owed will be paid to the department for distribution.

“The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring that Singh pays the wages and damages found due to his employees and that he agreed to pay months ago,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Michael Lazzeri. “Our actions to stop this employer from intimidating workers and exploiting them for financial gain serves notice to other employers that we will not tolerate their failures to meet terms of federal wage agreements and retaliation. We’ll continue to help foster environments in which workers are safe from retaliation for asserting their rights.”

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